Why Examine the Bible?
TODAY’S clergymen are fond of such statements as: “Now the way I see it is,” “As I understand it,” or “Well, that’s your understanding.” How different this is from Jesus’ position! Never did he say: “Now as I see it, so-and-so is right,” implying that someone else might see it a different way. With Jesus and the apostles doctrines were either right or wrong, true or false, there was no halfway ground, no gray, indefinite, in-between shade between truth and error.
Why is there this difference between the view of today’s religious leaders and that of Jesus and his apostles? Well, Jesus and his apostles knew the truth. They were convinced of the genuineness of what they taught. They never considered the Bible as a fiddle on which just any old tune could be played, but they recognized that the Hebrew Scriptures, the part of the Bible that had thus far been written, was the genuine Word of God, to be followed explicitly. Yet many of today’s clergymen take just the opposite view, seeming to be more concerned with other matters and far less convinced of the importance of their doctrine and the genuineness and clarity of the Bible as a sure guide.
Though Jesus was the Son of God he did not assume that he had the right to bypass the inspired writings. Rather, he set the outstanding example by basing his authority squarely upon those Scriptures. That Scriptural way is logical, for since the Bible was inspired by Jehovah God and since Jesus was his representative, certainly Jesus would be in harmony with that inspired writing.
Jesus did not repel the tempter, Satan, with “Well, that’s your understanding.” But he did repel him by three times referring to what had been written. Further, to prove that John’s work was preliminary to his he referred to what was written; to explain his casting the money changers out of the temple he referred to what was written, and to explain his coming betrayal, death and even the confusion his followers would suffer at that time he again referred to what was written.—Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; 11:10; 21:13; 26:24, 31.
He condemned the self-righteous Pharisees by quoting words written by Isaiah. In the synagogue at Nazareth he read his commission to preach written in the same book of Isaiah. In answer to the question: “By doing what shall I inherit everlasting life?” he referred to what was written in the law of Moses. He explained from the inspired Writings that he would be rejected and killed. He said: “All the things written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms about me must be fulfilled.” And he even pointed out how the written prophecies had foretold his resurrection on the third day.—Mark 7:6; Luke 4:17-21; 10:25, 26; 18:31-33; 24:44, 46, NW.
What an outstanding knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures! And what an outstanding example he set for us by basing his activity not upon human ideas, but upon God’s written Word!
Jesus’ disciples, too, were well acquainted with the Scriptures and recognized their importance as a reliable guide. They saw that Jesus fulfilled prophecies long ago written, and they called attention to this in their writings. Paul many times referred to the Hebrew Scriptures, showing that he too was familiar with them, relied upon them and recognized their importance. He wrote: “I believe all the things set forth in the Law and written in the Prophets.” Yes, these early Christians proved conclusively that they did not lean to their own understanding, but that they did believe, accept, know and conform to the things already written in God’s Word, the Holy Bible.—Acts 24:14; Luke 3:4; John 2:17; 12:14, 15; Acts 13:29, 33, NW.
Why is a right knowledge of the Bible’s contents so vital? Because you cannot receive salvation and righteousness through your own power or in any other way than through the provision that Jehovah has made. And the Bible shows what that provision is and what you should do about it
Paul said Jesus “became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.” But note those words: “To all those obeying him.” To obey you must know his instructions. Where could you learn them except from the Holy Scriptures? The apostle told of no other place when he wrote to young Timothy: “From infancy you have known the holy writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through the faith in connection with Christ Jesus.”—Heb. 5:9; 2 Tim. 3:15, NW.
Such sound faith is not blind, but is informed. It is based on facts, logic, understanding and trust. It is based on a knowledge of God and his purposes, of the reason for the ransom and of the result of it. And that knowledge leads you to exercise a sound faith in both Jehovah God and his Son Christ Jesus. The Bible, the book that builds this faith, is powerful. It can change your life, remold your goals, transform your personality.
But, if the Bible has such power, why are so many of today’s religions so spiritually weak? Because their leaders are too fond of telling you the way they see it, of the philosophy they have developed. They are more concerned with their theories of the service the clergy should render than God’s own instructions about what they should teach. And it is also because, all too often, even when they do refer to the Scriptures they make ridiculous applications of them to support their own preconceived notions rather than sticking to what the Bible really teaches.
There are those, however, who, like Jesus, the apostles and the rest of the first-century Christians, will conform their lives and their beliefs to what was written. Their faith is strong, their course is wise, and their knowledge, when acted upon properly, leads to salvation. Such faith and knowledge are within your grasp. They come from examining this book and obeying its instructions. Thus, there is every reason for you to gain an accurate knowledge of the Bible and its contents. Will you act upon these sound reasons and do so?